June 19, 2024
June 14, 2024
by
Claudia Pritchitt
PB Comms

Is a company social media policy a necessity?

Social media is a mainstream form of communication, whether it be with family, friends, colleagues or clients. In many professions, using social media platforms is encouraged, and provides another channel to reach and maintain relationships with clients.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that an online presence will reflect a company’s brand image and reputation. The boundary between personal and professional can become blurred. Who you are online, how you behave and what you say, reflects on the company you work for, and vice versa. Furthermore,whatever you publish online generally stays online forever, and is almost impossible to eradicate from the world wide web.

Therefore a social media policy is a must for any organisation in this digital age.

What is a social media policy?

A social media policy is a document that provides guidelines on how a company's social media accounts should be used, as well as how employees’ use of social media, both personally and professionally, can affect the company they work for and represent.

Its purpose is to guide a company and its employees on how social media should and shouldn’t be used, to protect both parties from potential social and legal disputes.

What are the benefits of a social media policy?

A social media policy:

  • Protects employees, by educating and informing on the consequences of certain actions on social media, but also more broadly online
  • Minimises the risk of potential PR crises. It can also provides the tools to quickly react if a crisis does occur
  • Protects brand image, particularly for the company accounts. Followers, including clients, have a clear understanding of what the company represents and stands for, and employees posting on behalf of the company are aware of these. It also helps to guide employees on how to respond to negative comments towards the brand
  • Minimises the risk of legal action against the brand. If employees understand privacy and copyright laws, the company is better positioned to protect itself  from potential lawsuits.

What elements should be included in the policy?

Purpose of the policy

Outline why the policy has been developed and its objective for employees and the organisation. It’s important to explain why this policy is necessary and why it is important for all parties to adhere to.

Who it is for

Include information on who this policy applies to. For most organisations this will encompass everyone from executives in board seats, to interns on a two-week placement. Make sure this policy is part of the onboarding of any new employee, and part of annual retraining program for existing employees.

Company account guidelines

Provide information on who is managing and accountable for the organisation’s social media accounts, what topics/information can and cannot be posted, how to correctly reference source information, what tone of voice to use, what types of phrases to avoid, and how to respond to negative comments or messages. Also include information on who to contact, and the line of approval in cases where something hasn’t been addressed in the policy or is in a grey area.

Personal account guidelines

Similarly to the company account guidelines, include the same for employee’s personal accounts. Provide examples of disclaimers employees can use in their post, or on their accounts. Such as “The views expressed on this social media account/on this post are my own, and not representative of the company I work for.”

Security guidelines

These should address how to maintain secure social media accounts, including how to create secure passwords, what to do if an account is hacked, and steps to respond to such a security breach. A reactive statement should also be drafted for use if such an incident was to occur, to quickly inform employees, clients and the public of such an incident.

Legal guidelines

This section should set out what is considered confidential data and information, how employees (whether publishing on behalf of the organisation or on their personal accounts) should credit sources used (e.g. images), and what the limitations of a disclaimer are, as well as any industry related regulatory requirements to be aware of. This especially applies to the finance industry.

Once the policy has been created, it is vital to provide training to every employee in the company on this policy. We recommend reviewing the policy on an annual basis and providing retraining each year. This keep employees across any changes to the policy, but is also a good refresher to keep this front of mind in their day-to-day interactions with the world wide web.

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